Conducting business in China has always challenged the most seasoned decision-makers. An understanding of China’s business protocols and it’s hundreds of subtle nuances are unique skills and instincts only honed with decades of experience. The landscape is now more complex than ever and the inability to travel to the Middle Kingdom anytime soon means having a US-China business consultant to help navigate this unfamiliar environment has never been as critical in strategy and planning. These times of risk, reluctance, a global pandemic, and political unrest between countries
have placed a big pause on many 2020-21 plans. Like the tides of the oceans that divide us, the US-China relationship changes each day. Most companies with projects started, assets (tools) in place or those that don’t have the resources to tackle sourcing in other parts of S.E. Asia will keep their sails pointed to China. Having a vetted China business consultant and connections on the ground is essential. Here are the Top 4 roles a solid US-China business consultant should provide to your organization.
1. Management Consulting – Identifying and Solving Problems With Expert Insight
Management consulting has been likened to a swiss-army knife in that it provides companies with a wide array of tools to solve various problems. Consultants gain a deep understanding of the needs and key client challenges then present recommendations to the client regarding action plans and potential solutions to key problems. Specifically, a reliable US-China business consultant can build immediate action plans and provide great value in overcoming challenges unique to doing business in China.
Failure to take into consideration aspects such as culture, legal systems, and strict government policies can lead to disastrous outcomes. For example, a lack of understanding on how to circumvent the barriers of bureaucracy and laws in China regarding how products are designed, manufactured, used, and sold can cause delays and increase costs of the operation. Experienced consultants and agencies understand the complete breadth of both potential problems and possibilities in China and help a company significantly minimize risk, lower costs, and realize their full potential.
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2. Developing Strategic Partnerships – Identifying the right supplier
Utilizing a US-China business consultant will also accelerate and smooth the process of finding high-quality and highly reliable manufacturers. Choosing the right factory out of thousands is an art—Having partners you can count on for quality control/quality assurance can preserve massive resources especially during times when travel may not be possible. An experienced manufacturing partner on the ground provides assurance that finished goods will be inspected properly and shipped on time. These partnerships mitigate capital risk and time (speed to market) that can ruin a brand’s reputation overnight. Entire production runs can be impacted or may need to start over if certain details are not inspected properly. Developing strong relationships can be an arduous task and communication between Chinese partners can be difficult as vital information can oftentimes get lost in translation. Trusted consultants should serve as a guide to bridge Chinese business culture and build trust and cultivate a dependable relationship between you and your overseas partners
3. Supply Chain and Logistics – Sustainably Sourcing and Shipping Products
A key role for consultants is creating a resilient and sustainable supply chain including materials sourcing to shipments of finished goods. New consumer behaviors are immediately increasing demand in some categories while creating massive oversupplies in others. Maximizing supply chain flexibility is crucial and businesses are researching moving supply chains elsewhere
. Asia business consultants should provide recommendations and insights regarding contingency plans regarding many of these “what if?” scenarios. Strategic supply chain planning also includes suggestions on design for manufacturability (DFM) which reduces cost while getting an MVP -minimal viable product produced. An effective DFM strategy speeds up production and reduces manufacturing errors. The right consultant should be well versed in your business’ category of manufacturing and be able to translate product changes between you and the supplier. There is really no way to overexaggerate the value of having an expertly structured supply chain plan and the right partners in place for new product launches.
4. Operational Support – Creating New Asia SOPs
The work doesn’t stop after-action plans have been implemented, suppliers identified and supply chains stabilized. Implementing a strategic US-China business consultant adds a layer of operational support that shouldn’t be ignored. In the absence of sending U.S. personnel to China or S.E. Asia oversight of operations in real-time is as essential as ever. Factory identification and qualifications, demand planning, forecasting, troubleshooting, logistics—All Asia Supply Chain details cant be done from a desk and through Zoom calls. There is no substitute for having a supplier agnostic, professional partner in place in Asia.